150th Kentucky Derby
May 4th, 2024
Feb 18, 2024


Jockey Fernando Jara Won Three of the Five Stakes

HOUSTON, TX- Sam Houston Race Park hosted Texas Preview Day with five stakes saluting Texas Thoroughbreds. The annual event serves as a preview for Texas Champions Day, which will take place on Saturday, March 23 and the majority of today’s winners are expected to point to one of the stakes saluting Texas-breds.  Fortunately, there was no rain, but temperatures were in the 40’s with wind gusts up to 28 mph throughout the card. Nevertheless, the Thoroughbreds were undaunted and produced some very entertaining finishes! 


Too Much Kiki Wins Third Straight Stake in the $75,000 Two Altazano

Too Much Kiki was too much for the field in the $75,000 Two Altazano, a six-furlong stake on the main track for Texas-sired 3-year-old fillies. 


Piloted by Fernando Jara, the TTA $100,000 sale topper earned her fourth consecutive win and her third straight stake win on Saturday. It was the eighth win in the Two Altazano for her trainer, Bret Calhoun. He left the saddling duties to his longtime assistant Hernan Zamudio, known as “Pancho,”, but was reached on the phone following the race.


“Hard to say anything but dominant performance,” Calhoun said of the easy victory. “Fernando took advantage of the soft fractions, and we are looking forward to seeing how she will handle two turns on Texas Champions Day.”


Too Much Kiki was three-wide early in the race, took control in the turn, held off the advances of Indy La Primera at the top of the stretch and pulled away to win by nearly eight lengths. The final time for six furlongs was 1:12.76.


The Too Much Bling filly is owned by Mansfield Racing and is named after Landon Mansfield’s daughter, Kiki.


“Fernando did a great job,” said Mansfield. “He moved her up a little earlier than last time, but she was ready!”


Too Much Kiki was bred by Danele Durham, out of Soft Music, by Action This Day. She has won five of her six career starts and has earned $210,600. Prior to Saturday, she won the Bara Lass Stakes and the Darby’s Daughter, both at Sam Houston. The heavy 1-5 post-time favorite returned a safe $2.60 to win. 


Too Much Bling also is the sire of Divertida, who rallied to finish second at 30-1. Divertida is trained by J.R. Caldwell and owned by Rick and Sheri Rinn; Rene Diaz had the riding call. 


Divertida has placed twice in her seven career starts in Texas and Oklahoma. Brant Schafer bred the filly out of Get Tied On, by Ready’s Image.


Indy La Primera was third by a length over Dulce Amanecer Yg.


The Two Altazano Stakes is named in honor of Two Altazano, the talented Texas-bred filly owned by the late Harold V. Goodman, who won the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks in 1994. She also captured the 1994 Sam Houston Oaks with Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day in the saddle.


Singapore Flash Returns to Win $75,000 Houston Turf Stakes 

In the first of two turf features, the $75,000 Houston Turf Stakes, the 2022 Houston Turf Stakes champion Singapore Flash emerged victorious in the mile and one sixteenth contest on the Connally Turf Course.


Sunlit Song, the 2023 defending champion and Texas Horse of the Year, finished third as the 3/5 post-time favorite. 


Singapore Flash settled back early and rallied coming out of the final turn to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:45.42. The expected showdown between Singapore Flash and Sunlit Song was made more interesting by the presence of longshot Iberian Runner, who joined the duo in the stretch and finished second at 17-1.


Singapore Flash was ridden by Rene Diaz for Triple V Racing, LLC. Diaz has been riding for trainer J.R. Caldwell following the departure of Lane Luzzi to the NYRA circuit. Caldwell recently celebrated his 1,000th career win on February 4 at Sam Houston Race Park.


“There were some new shooters in there and I didn’t know how it was going to unfold early,” said Caldwell. “I told Rene to keep him covered and make his move and let him go. He rode him perfectly. We had a different plan this year. We know that Sunlit Song will fight every time, but our horse was ready.”


With Saturday’s win, Singapore Flash has won nine of 32 starts and amassed career earnings of $369,506. Virginia Jago Elder bred the 8-year-old gelding by Shanghai Bobby and out of the Thunder Gulch mare Dare to Dance.


Singapore Flash went off at odds of 3-1 and paid $8.20 to win. The multiple stakes winner recently competed in the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (G3) at Sam Houston and won the Assault Stakes last summer at Lone Star to close out his 2023 campaign. 


Iberian Runner is a 5-year-old gelding trained by Cesar Govea for owner L and G Racing Stables. Leandro Goncalves rode the son of El Kingdom in his first career stakes appearance. 


Sunlit Song is 18 for 44 and has banked an impressive $742,920 in his career. The 9-year-old gelding is trained by Mindy Willis and was ridden by Stewart Elliot for owners Carolyn Barnett and Becky Harding. 


Hezakoolkat Earns First Career Stakes Win in $75,000 Jim’s Orbit

Hezakoolkat won the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit for 3-year-old colts and geldings; the final time for six furlongs on the main track was 1:12.55.


Hezakoolkat stalked in second place behind early leader Unbridled Bling but drew off in the stretch to clear the field by two and a half lengths. The 2-1 co-favorite at post-time won his first career stakes in the effort and paid $6.20.


Fernando Jara won his second stake of the day aboard Hezakoolkat for trainer Austin Gustafson.

“He’s a nice horse,” noted Jara. “Austin gave me instructions in the paddock. I thank him, Bret Calhoun and J.R. Caldwell for giving me the opportunity to ride these nice horses today.”

Jara, who was born in Panama, returned to the United Stakes last November after shifting his business to Dubai. Noted for piloting 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor (ARG), as well as Jazil. Jockey agent Jose Santos Jr. represents the 36 -year-old, who has posted a record of  59-13-8-9 since the 2024 live racing season at Sam Houston began on January 5.

Stephen Fidel bred and owns the gray colt by Early Flyer. 

“He was coming off a long layoff and has run well in both starts in Houston,” said Fidel. “It takes a village to own and breed stakes winners, I am grateful to Benchmark for the mare and to Scooter Dodwell who broke him for us. We are excited to see how far he will go.”

Hezakoolkat is out of the Silver City mare Kat’s Infatuation, the 2017 winner of the Bara Lass Stakes at Sam Houston. He recently broke his maiden at Sam Houston and was second in the My Dandy Division of the Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes


Silent Bling finished second at 17-1 under jockey Rodolfo Guerra; Jayde Gelner trains for owner Norman Stables, LLC. CJ Thoroughbreds bred the gelding by My Golden Song and out of the Too Much Bling mare Show Me the Bling. 


A pair of Too Much Bling geldings completed the top four: Son of a Blingwas third at 5-1 and Bandera Bling, winner of the My Dandy on January 6, was fourth as the 2-1 co-favorite. 


The Texas Thoroughbred Association sponsors the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series (TSSS), a set of races for progeny of nominated Texas-based stallions. The series features three sets of races, each split into two divisions (colts/geldings and fillies) for a purse of $75,000 per division. In 2005, the Texas Thoroughbred Association named the colts and gelding division of the Texas Stallion Stakes for Jim’s Orbit, who won the Grade 2 Ohio Derby prior to competing in the 1988 Kentucky Derby.


Too Much Action Impresses in the $75,000 David E. Hooper

Top Texas-bred older horses competed in the $75,000 David E. Hooper Stakes, formerly the H-Town Stakes, at seven furlongs over the main track. Too Much Action was an impressive winner with a four-length margin of victory and a final time of 1:24.36.


Too Much Action gave trainer J.R. Caldwell his second stakes win of the day and jockey Fernando Jara visited the winner’s circle for the third time. He is owned by Jeff Scott, Penny Scott, Bradley Thoroughbreds LLC, Danielle Ferguson and Parker Ferguson.


“We’ve been wanting to run this horse seven-eighths and he ran a great race, for sure,” said Caldwell. “I want to thank my owners, the Scotts, Bradleys and Fergusons for buying this horse and letting me train him. I’m blessed to have great owners; they buy me great horses and it makes my job pretty easy!”


Fans of Too Much Action can expect to see him return on Texas Champions Day, though the targeted race is to be determined.